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菲佣在香港/domestic helpers in Hong Kong

Viewed 2059 times 2016-2-14 14:32 |System category:News| afternoon, domestic, clothes, playing, eating

The first time when I passed Central or Wanchai on a Sunday afternoon three years ago, I was surprised to see dark-skinned woman sitting on the ground, eating, chatting or playing cards. Some of them are wrapped in hijab, most wearing colorful clothes. My Hong Kong friend told me that they are domestic helpers, or 菲佣in Chinese (though a lot of them are from Indonesia).  For some locals, their “occupation of central” hinders the use of public space by Hong Kong citizens. Others find it a special landscape here.

It was this winter that an idea took root in my mind: I want to make a documentary on them! Accounting for 3 % of Hong Kong population, their lives seem to be ignored by the mainstream society, let alone being protected or cared. Although the minimum wage in Hong Kong is 32.5 HKD/hour, this is not applicable to them. According to Hong Kong law, domestic helpers must reside with their employers. Though they work at employers’ houses all day, their minimum salary per month is only 4050 HKD. And the Employees' Retraining Levy which starts from Oct. 2003 imposed 9,600 HKD-tax on domestic helpers for a two-year contract. Documented cases of them being abused, assaulted or intimidated have been many.

But the difficult situation is not the solo reason for me to make the documentary. First because I do not want to have a (moral) standing point and to preset a sympathetic ambiance. Second, the reverse cases of abuse happen as well. Some domestic helpers are accused of molesting or abusing the kids of their employers. Of course the numbers of these cases is extremely small in compare with the total 320,000 (figure in 2013) maids in Hong Kong and some are not given verdict yet. My intention is very simple: most people in Hong Kong, be it locals or not, do not know much about them. Do we know what religion they are of? How many hours do they work per day? How do they find boyfriends? Is sitting on Central and eating their only leisure here? Do they go back to visit their parents? What would be their dreams? What kind of education they’ve gone through? A lot of questions occupy my mind and I just want to display their lives in the footage.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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